Softball: Sterling scores early, often in win against Sherrard
By Brian Weidman
STERLING – First, the Sterling softball team got the best of Sherrard by a few inches.
Later, it was by many feet. The result was a 7-2 victory for the Golden Warriors against the Tigers in a nonconference game on Wednesday afternoon.
The Golden Warriors (10-2) seized control with four runs in the bottom of the first inning. Riley Dittmar led off with a single, was sacrificed to second by Lauren Jacobs, then went to third on a base hit by Amayia Hernandez.
The next batter, Elizabeth Palumbo, lined a shot up the middle that glanced off the glove of Sherrard pitcher McKenna Blackwell. Dittmar scored easily, and when Blackwell’s throw went off the glove of teammate Kaitlyn Woods at first, Hernandez scored as well.
With Palumbo and Hannah Jacoby on and two outs, Sterling’s Ellie Leigh ripped a double to left-center that bounced off the glove of Sherrard left fielder Emma Doty on the warning track. Palumbo and Jacoby both raced home to score on the play.
With the Golden Warriors up 4-1 after 2 1/2 innings, the game was delayed by a medical emergency involving the home plate umpire, Doug Jones of Moline, who collapsed between innings. Police and medical personnel were summoned, and Jones was taken away by ambulance after about a half-hour delay.
Base umpire Larry Rehmert of Sterling summoned another ump, Brad Ebersole of Milledgeville, out of the stands to replace Jones. Ebersole had been slated to work in Geneseo on Wednesday, but that game was canceled, and he was watching the Sterling game as a fan.
Ebersole borrowed the umpire shirt and hat of another umpire in attendance, Jesse Duran of Sterling, who was also watching as a fan.
When play resumed, the first pitch from McKenna was knocked over the fence in left by Sterling slugger Hernandez. It was her seventh home run this season, and it came on her 18th birthday.
“Honestly, I was kind of nervous, I’m not going to lie,” Hernandez said. “That situation kind of made me anxious. I was hoping for a good pitch to drive, that’s all I was looking for. It was right there where I wanted it.”
Palumbo followed with a walk, and one out later, Jordyn Bryant smacked her third home run of the season to give Sterling a 7-1 lead.
That was more than enough support for Palumbo (8-2), who allowed two runs, five hits and one walk, with six strikeouts in going the distance.
“I knew they had some pretty good hitters,” Palumbo said, “so I was just focusing on trusting my defense at that point. I knew they had my back if they hit the ball. I was really leaning on them.”
Sherrard (5-9) struck first in the top of the first. Hannah Waddell led off with a double, and after two line-drive outs, Ashley Russell stroked a single to left to plate Waddell.
With one out in the fourth, Ava Hartman smacked a solo home run to account for the Tigers’ second run.
Head coach Ketih Estes was looking for some stiff competition for his club, and was pleased with the effort.
“We were really happy with it,” Estes said. “We scored a run early, which definitely isn’t our M.O. We usually wait until about the fifth inning, so I think we scared ourselves a bit, scoring in the first inning. We played tough the whole game. If you can ever be proud of a loss, which we hate to lose, we’re proud of that. We played a great team, and I think we did a respectable job.”
Sterling 7, Sherrard 2
Star of the game: Amayia Hernandez, Sterling, solo HR, 2 R